The queen of the South

Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Book - 2004

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New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons 2004.
Physical Description
436 p.
Main Author
Arturo Pérez-Reverte (-)
Other Authors
Andrew Hurley (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ Perez-Reverte has established a reputation for expertly mixing history and mystery; for taking seemingly arcane subjects (fencing, rare books, navigation) and exposing their richness as metaphor; and for focusing as much on his characters' inner lives as on the action that envelops them. Here he leaves the arcane subject matter behind to tell the story of Teresa Mendoza, the "Queen of the South," a notorious and enigmatic drug smuggler in Spain and Morocco. History plays a role--the story is based on fact--but there is none of the elaborate intercutting between contemporary and historical plots that characterizes the author's earlier books. That is not to say, however, that this is just another drug-running thriller. Using an elaborate, Citizen Kane-like structure to tell his story, Perez-Reverte follows an intrepid reporter who is researching a book on the mysterious Mendoza. Much like Kane, the text jumps from the reporter's interviews to flashbacks in which the story unfolds, tracing Mendoza's life from her beginnings in Sinaloa, Mexico, and her escape to Spain after the murder of her boyfriend, to her remarkable emergence as the major player in the high-risk game of transporting drugs across the Straits of Gibraltar. A thriller with an almost meditative tone, the novel's energy comes not only from the action scenes, which are expertly delivered, but also from the monologues in which Mendoza struggles with the multiple contradictions in her life. Many Perez-Reverte readers will be less interested in drug running than in rare books, but they will be drawn in by the author's remarkable eloquence and ability to plumb the recesses of a character's psyche. ((Reviewed April 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Perez-Reverte abandons the elaborate intellectual scaffolding of novels like The Club Dumas for the sock-it-to-'em tale of Teresa Mendoza, on the run after her drug-smuggling boyfriend is killed. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Perez-Reverte presents another action-packed thriller that will help solidify his reputation in that genre. In the seamy world of Mexican and Spanish drug dealers, Teresa Mendoza, the novel's eponymous heroine, quickly rises from mere dealer's moll to the peak of her own cartel, surviving the murder of two boyfriends, a stint in prison, and the opposition, both licit and illicit. She is, after all, "a woman thriving in a world of dangerous men" and, it must be said, one whom the reader admires and respects but doesn't really like. Perez-Reverte has obviously researched this subject well and relies on his storytelling wits, throwing out a series of twists, double-crossings, agents provocateurs, and revenge plots. The fast-paced narrative is interrupted occasionally by the commentary of the "narrator," allegedly gathering information for this notorious woman's biography, a metafictional device of which the author fails to take full advantage. First-time readers may wonder what all the fuss is about, since the novel fails to transcend an exciting but basically hollow tale; fans will be surprised that the intellectual ingenuity characteristic of earlier efforts (The Club Dumas) is conspicuously absent in a work one would not expect from a newly elected member of the Royal Spanish Academy. Perez-Reverte's reputation, however, makes this a required addition to public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/04.]-Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Readers of Perez-Reverte's sixth thriller won't be able to turn the pages fast enough: the author of The Club Dumas, The Seville Communion and other literary adventure novels now tackles the gritty world of drug trafficking in Mexico, southern Spain and Morocco, offering a frightening, fascinating look at the international business of transporting cocaine and hashish as well as a portrait of a smart, fast, daring and lucky woman, Teresa Mendoza. As the novel opens, Teresa's phone rings. She doesn't have to answer it: the phone is a special one given to her by her boyfriend, drug runner and expert Cessna pilot Guero Davila. He has warned her that if a call ever came, it meant he was dead, and that she had to run for her own life. On the lam, Teresa leaves Mexico for Morocco, where she keeps a low profile transporting drug shipments with her new lover. But after a terrible accident and a brief stint in prison, Teresa's on her own again. She manages to find her way, but Teresa is no mere survivor: gaining knowledge in every endeavor she becomes involved in and using her own head for numbers and brilliant intuition, she eventually winds up heading one of the biggest drug traffic rings in the Mediterranean. Spanning 12 years and introducing a host of intriguing, scary characters, from Teresa's drug-addicted prison comrade to her former assassin turned bodyguard, the novel tells the gripping tale of "a woman thriving in a world of dangerous men." Agent, Howard Morhaim. (June) Forecast: Like Perez-Reverte's previous novels, this one is an international bestseller. It should hit big here too, released in a 100,000 printing and backed by an author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When a call comes that her boyfriend Guero, a Mexican drug smuggler, has been killed by ruthless rivals and that she is next on the list of targets, Teresa Mendoza must give up her old life and her innocence to become a tough and dangerous member of a dark and deadly world in order to survive. By the author of The Flanders Panel. Reprint.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The international bestseller that inspired the must-watch drama on USA Network starring Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza.From “master of the intellectual thriller” Arturo Pérez-Reverte, a remarkable tale, spanning decades and continents—from the dusty streets of Mexico to the sparkling waters off the coast of Morocco, to the Strait of Gibraltar and Spain—in a story encompassing sensuality and cruelty, love and betrayal, and life and death.Teresa Mendoza's boyfriend is a drug smuggler who the narcos of Sinaloa, Mexico, call "the king of the short runway," because he can get a plane full of coke off the ground in three hundred yards. But in a ruthless business, life can be short, and Teresa even has a special cell phone that Guero gave her along with a dark warning. If that phone rings, it means he's dead, and she'd better run, because they're coming for her next. Then the call comes.In order to survive, she will have to say goodbye to the old Teresa, an innocent girl who once entrusted her life to a pinche narco smuggler. She will have to find inside herself a woman who is tough enough to inhabit a world as ugly and dangerous as that of the narcos-a woman she never before knew existed. Indeed, the woman who emerges will surprise even those who know her legend, that of the Queen of the South.